Obama Wants to Establish a US Chief Technical Officer

Who would you like to see as US CTO?Back in November, Ars Technica provided an overview of the Obama plan for technology and innovation. In it, the campaign describes a role responsible for network integrity, coordination between agency CTOs, system interoperability, and increased government transparency.

As it happens, I’ve worked with several state CTOs on most of these issues. Given authority over capital IT spending, such positions can drive tremendous efficiencies. In Massachusetts, one project I helped lead generated huge savings simply by aggregating the state’s demand for Internet service. I also participated in moving 400 agencies with their own web to one state site. In New Jersey, we gained data interoperability between 600 school districts to allow the state to measure outcomes such as graduation rate and test performance. All would have gone nowhere without very strong top-down leadership, which the federal government today lacks.

Who would you like to see appointed as US CTO?
When the Washingtonian asked this question, tech lawyer Lawrence Lessig said the person should be a “true geek.” The names of tech luminaries have been floated. But this person would also need to drive huge changes in organizational culture, and navigate layers of political interests, and have a vision of what government technology can do.

Is this a role for a geek, politician, military leader or business person? Who would you like to see appointed tech czar? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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